Socialism: Then & Now

by Svetozar (Steve) Pejovich Three types of socialism, Fascism, National Socialism […]

by Svetozar (Steve) Pejovich

Three types of socialism, Fascism, National Socialism and Communism fought capitalism in the 20th century. By the early 1990s, those three types of socialism had failed. They left in their wake economic misery and intellectual emptiness. Yet, socialism is suddenly becoming a factor in America. The median voter, who hears the promises of socialists, is largely unaware of that system’s major premises. This paper asks: Is the rising socialism in America home-grown socialism or a replica of the three types of socialism from the last century?

As an American scholar, who was subject of National-Socialism (1941-1945) and communism (1945-1957), I can address with some authority two issues that might interest the median voter: (1) What are some fundamental characteristics of national-socialism, fascism and communism; and (2) Do American socialists replicate those fundamental characteristics. Space limitations permits only brief discussion.

Racism is the fundamental characteristic of National-Socialism. In Hitler’s Germany, the arian race was crowned the master race and Germans were declared the purest of all arians. Racial groups such as Jews and Gypsies were to be exterminated. Slavic people and other ethnic groups were declared inferior to the arians.

In my experience, and subsequent research confirmed its validity, the survival requirements under nazis and communists were different. Nazis imposed draconian rules which they enforced with Germanic meticulousness. Jews were either shot or shipped away. The Slavs and other groups were safe if they obeyed the rules. Communists required people to obey the rules and accept their doctrine. Basically, nazis wanted people’s obedience; communists wanted people’s minds.

American socialists and left-of-center Democrats (hereafter, the progressives) use the term White Power to imply that the whites in America treat minorities the way nazis treated non-arians. A fair question is then: Does the Black Power in Africa and the Asian Power in Asia treat white minorities better than the Afro-American and Asian minorities are treated in America? If not, racism exists either world-wide or not at all.

Corporativism is the fundamental characteristic of Fascism. Corporativism is a political system in which the representatives of professional and economic associations (akin to our Congress) make, under control and direction of the Party, all major policy decisions. The doctrine of fascism is not racial, and the fascism of the last century was less oppressive (e.g., Spain and Portugal) than nazism and communism. However, Mussolini succumbed to Hitler, permitted Germans to execute his son-in-law (a leading guardian of the fascist doctrine), and fascism in Italy replicated nazism,

Mussolini’s favorite expression was: “everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”. Corporativism epitomizes this anti-capitalist expression; corporations and professional association serve the state. Like fascists, the progressives want to control corporations. Unlike fascists, the progressives want to control corporations to pursue policies favorable to minorities.

Class Struggleis the fundamental characteristic of communism. Lenin created the Comintern to advocate communism world-wide. By late 1940s, Russia imposed communism in Eastern Europe. Internally, class struggle created famines in 1920-1922 and 1932-1933, while purges sent millions of people to their death or gulags.

Class struggle in communism aims at subjugating all resources, human and non-human, to the party control. The progressives in America accept the concept of class struggle but are using it as their ideological weapon against institutional racism. Institutional racism means that the prevailing institutions, because of their origin in the western culture, bias competition for entry into various jobs and occupations in the favor of whites; that is so because whites understand western cultural requirements better than non-whites. To dismantle institutional racism, progressives advocate policies such as affirmative action in universities, diversity requirements and gender preference in business enterprises and government agencies, and environmental regulations at the national level.

There is, however, a problem. If the prevailing capitalist institutions discriminated against people not familiar with the western culture, why are Asian students flocking our universities and preforming better than white Americans; Why are many African countries abandoning “their way to socialism” to import capitalist institutions; Why have capitalist institutions changed China’s and East-Asian Tigers’ economies? Why is Venezuela regressing? Why are Scandinavians electing pro-capitalist parties?

All American socialists want government-controlled economy. Yet, some are more radical than others. The likes of Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders and Warren stand closer to communism. They call all their opponents, the huge majority of whom support the rule of law and limited government, nazis or fascists. Like communists, they refuse to debate their opponents on merits; instead, they attack their character and motives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added a Stalinist flavor to Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s numerous proposals that would shift resources from private to public ownership. Alexandria wants government-guaranteed jobs. Article 12 of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, known as the Stalinist Constitution, said: “In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”

Instead of direct control of resources, Hillary Clinton and Pelosi favor fascist types of political control of privately-owned corporations and resources via legal regulations such as equal-pay for equal-work, affirmative actions, and employment quotas rather than merit. That is, in the pursuit of gender and minority votes, they embrace pro-fascist policies.

Yet, it is arguable that American socialists, while incorporating some elements of communism and fascism, are in the process of creating their own home-grown system. See link belowfor detailed analysis of the political and economic forces at work in support of American socialism, which I prefer to call liberal socialism rather than democratic socialism.

See: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ahgyC3Kh6KRUa83QV9sI/full  

Steve Pejovich is a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University. Pejovich has written numerous books and articles on economics, including Fundamentals of Economics: A Property Rights Approach and Life in the Soviet Union: A Report Card on Socialism. Dr. Pejovich received an LL.B., from the University of Belgrade and a Ph.D. in economics from Georgetown University. He currently serves as an adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation and as a senior research fellow at the International Centre for Economic Research in Torino, Italy.


The views expressed on austriancenter.com are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.

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